Scotland curling star 'horrified' by report she refused to play

The former skip of the Scottish women's curling team told a court yesterday she was horrified at an allegation that she had refused to play for her country.

Gail Munro, 43, an ice rink manager, is suing former national coach Derek Brown in a 50,000 action claiming she has been defamed, following comments he made at a press conference suggesting she had refused to return to the ice.

"I have been involved in international curling for quite a number of years both coaching and playing and felt I had a very good standing in the international curling community," Miss Munro told the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

"I just felt at that moment that that reputation and that standing had cascaded around me.

She added: "I had no control over it because of the player's agreement I had signed which said I could not speak out."

Her counsel, Roddy Dunlop, QC, asked if she considered her reputation had been affected. She replied: "Yes. It is difficult to quantify, but I do feel that the few international events which I have attended since I did not get the same warm welcome which I have previously had."

Mr Brown, 44, now director of high performance for the US curling association, based in Wisconsin, is contesting the case.

Miss Munro maintains she was not asked to return to the team following a decision to drop her at the 2008 World Women's Curling Championship in Vernon, Canada, and did not refuse to return to the team.

After the media questioned Mr Brown at the tournament it was reported that she had refused to play.

Miss Munro, of Cairnryan Road, Stranraer, said she first became aware of the allegation through a publication produced at the event. She said: "To my absolute horror there I was on the front page eating a poke of chips with the allegation that I had refused to play for my country."

She later had a meeting with Mr Brown. She said: "I was very upset and expressed in no uncertain terms to Derek that my position was that I had not refused to play for Scotland.

"It was very, very important to me that he rectified the statement he had given to the media."

Miss Munro said she demanded that he go to the press and issue a retraction. Mr Dunlop asked if Mr Brown had ever done that and she replied: "No."

Asked about her participation in the sport since the event, she said: "It would have been very easy for me to have walked away, but I felt I had to hold my head high because I had done nothing wrong and I would continue to try and represent my country."

After winning their initial game at the tournament, the Scottish team suffered a string of defeats.Following a loss to Japan the team attended a debrief and during it Mr Brown said she was off for the next game.

The skip said: "This came as a complete shock to me, that I was being dropped from what essentially was my team.

"I said in quite strong terms I was skip of the Scottish curling team that had qualified to play in Vernon and as such I expected to be on the ice."

The case, before Lord Doherty, continues.

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